May 9, 2007

Save Time and Money by Letting Go of Perfectionism

After Alex was born two years ago, I had to completely change my way of thinking. I was used to doing things "my way," which of course meant "the right way." There was little room for error, but I had the luxury of time back then. Once Alex arrived, my schedule was determined by his, and his didn't always match my needs - almost never, in fact. It wasn't easy, and I'm still working on it, but letting go of my need to be perfect was absolutely necessary for my sanity.

Instead of saying to myself, "I need to clean the house," I now try to say, "I need to vacuum the living room" and "I need to clean the downstairs bathroom." My house is never sparkling clean from top to bottom anymore, but at least it's moderately clean all the time. Because of this new perspective, I was able to terminate my cleaning service several months after Alex was born and keep the house clean myself (with Marc's help, of course!). I posted a while back about how helped me achieve this.

Another way I save money by letting go of my need to be perfect is in the kitchen. We eat a lot more takeout now than we did before we had children, but I've learned to cook less-than-perfect meals so that we can still save some money on groceries and eat more healthfully. For example, I might make a main dish but serve baby carrots instead of a "real" veggie side dish. I also tend to serve the same meals when I do cook, instead of trying three or four new recipes a week like I used to. And when I do try a new recipe, it's one with relatively few ingredients and simple and quick cooking methods.

Letting go of my need to be perfect saves us money in a less direct way as well. I have a basket full of receipts next to my computer with expenditures that need to be entered into Quicken so that I can track our spending and see where our money has gone and whether I need to adjust our spending plan (aka budget). I used to input the data once every couple of weeks so that the receipts didn't pile up too much. But now, with so little free time on my hands, the pile is almost always sky high. If I tried to input all the receipts at once, I'd never do it. Instead, I grab a handful when I have the time and input just those. It's not a perfect system, but at least I know if our budget is still working.

Changing my perspective has enabled me to get more things done and save my family money in the process. This technique works in just about every area of life, too!

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